“Much of what you read about the brain is riddled with myths or fiction, or simply outdated science,” says Lisa Feldman Barrett, University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University. Barrett is currently working on her next book, Seven Insights About The Brain, which will be a collection of seven short essays. She aims to spread information and bust neuroscience myths through her book. “You could read this book in a couple hours on the beach, or curled up with a cup of tea on a rainy day, and you’ll get deep insights about the human brain that are based on the most up-to-date understanding,” Barrett says. “These insights might lead you to reconsider the kind of creature you really are.”
These short essays are her medium to bust some neuroscience myths. She goes on to share her views about the myth of the Lizard Brain, which gained popularity as a theory of brain evolution. According to this theory, the only difference between humans and other vertebrate animals is the existence of a newest layer of the brain; this layer enables humans to make rational, intelligent decisions. The fairly diminishing complexity of this myth makes it easy to grasp, thereby making it even more believable and popular, despite it being disproved by neuroscientists soon after it came into the limelight. Barrett describes how she’s heard narratives of the functioning of the brain in fields of law and education as well and seen enough misinformation in circulation.
Barrett recently became the recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship for her brilliant contribution in the field of neuroscience. This fellowship will help support her work on her upcoming book. “I’m deeply grateful for this award; it’s a real honour,” she says. “Honours like this are never the effort of a single individual, and I’ve been fortunate to have many, many generous colleagues and mentees who’ve shared their expertise with me so I could do the kinds of research I now do.”